Advertising is a dog-eat-dog world, but at the kind of exotic creative pow-wows some agencies like to hold, it can be more like lion-eat-ad-executive.
Such was almost the fate of David Apicella and Chris Wall. The co-creative heads at Ogilvy & Mather in New York jetted off to South Africa this month for a meeting of Ogilvy's Worldwide Creative Council, a board of 12 top creatives that convenes quarterly. The morning after a day of meetings, the group boarded two open-cab Land Rovers for what they thought would be a relaxing jaunt—a tour of the Mala Mala game reserve. Shortly after starting out, Wall and Apicella's vehicle came across a pride of some eight lions, asleep in the road. The guide, equipped with "a shotgun on the dashboard and a .357 Magnum on his hip," according to Apicella, eased the car off-road for a better view—but promptly got stuck in the mud.
The guide organized a rescue—via a cable and another Rover—but the lions soon ambled over to see what the fuss was about. To make matters worse, the cable snapped, leaving the creatives to ponder just who would be the first course. "It was genuinely scary," Apicella says. "You realize that they don't know they're not supposed to eat the ad execs in the Land Rover." They were eventually pulled out and escaped unharmed. "It kind of felt like an hour, but it took five to 10 minutes tops," says Apicella. Did he learn his lesson about his place in the food chain? Maybe not. "I'd do it again," Apicella says. "It was fantastic."